We sat on our navy-blue cushioned benches for what we did not know would be the last time for years. We proudly, happily, solemnly sang “Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow”. Service had begun. The Adventist Youth Society was preparing for camp, Pathfinder weekend was just around the corner and an outreach was scheduled for the following Sunday. The excerpt in that Sabbath’s bulletin under “From the Pastor’s Desk” read
“‘This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep… neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8: 9, 10. These words are especially appropriate for us today in light of the many things which prompt us to mourn and be sorry. Having come into God’s house and presence let us “rejoice and be glad” and lift up our hearts in praises and thanksgiving to our God, our Creator and Redeemer”.
We were filled with hope and excitement as we left church that day. September 4th came, and I sat in my usual spot at church gazing at the majesty that is Philadelphia. Two days later it was gone. The roof was torn open and the front collapsed. Philadelphia mourned for the Lord’s temple as we took refuge at our sister church, Shiloh Tabernacle. Our first Sabbath there was filled with excitement, praises, and laughter as we greeted those who we had not been able to contact for weeks. We praised God through prayer, song, and testimony that our lives had been spared. For months we were housed by Shiloh while cleaning up and preparing Philadelphia for occupancy. We joyfully moved back home on June 12, 2018.
We were far from being back on our navy-blue cushioned benches, with the lofty mahogany wood roof and widely bright hanging chandeliers. But we praised God because we were home! The message from the Pastor’s desk on the last sabbath we were here rang clear and true that day: Having come into God’s house and presence let us “rejoice and be glad” and lift up our hearts in praises and thanksgiving to our God, our Creator and Redeemer”. Over a year has passed and the building has not been finished yet, but we continue to worship our Creator. And while rebuilding may take some time, we will always give God Never Ending Praise.